Monday, August 25, 2008

Witnesses for Christ

Witnesses for Christ As Christians, we have all been called to be witnesses of the Lord, but what do we understand by being a witness for Christ?

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, a 'witness' is a person who sees an event happening, or one who is to show or give proof of something, or a person who speaks from his own experience that something is true, or one who bears testimony to a fact with proof that something is true. A ‘witness’ for Christ therefore involves an experience we can testify, or a proof of God's wonderful work in our lives, something we can see visibly in the form of changed lives, from sinfulness to desiring holiness, and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit with our lives revealing Christ.

How then can we be witnesses for Christ? The Book of Acts tells us how. By first receiving power, and then be witnesses to all the earth.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NIV)

The first steps to being a witness for Christ therefore is to receive power, and this means we must first get hold of our lives to live victorious in Christ, by submitting ourselves in total surrender to Him and drawing closer to God on a daily basis through prayer and Bible reading, allowing the Holy Spirit to mould us and manifest through us, to become more like Jesus, and to bear much fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

All these traits and qualities of what some people deem as essential signs of 'good' Christians bear witness of Christ in our lives, and our lives given to God completely will in return reflect and bear witness of Christ. Witnessing is therefore more than just reaching others for Christ by being vocal in telling others about Him and the gospel. It requires living our lives for Christ to show more of Jesus, and less of ourselves, not in the way the world shows, as in staging a scene for others to see, like the Pharisees who seek the honour of Man, but truthfully, genuinely, and naturally from the innermost depths of our hearts (Matthew 6:1, 5; Luke 6:45). It is revealing Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which are not something we can acquire by works. It is God given, and it comes naturally as we continue to draw close to God. There is, however, no need for us to wait until we are spiritually mature to bear witness for Christ; we need only to come clean before God in all areas of our unholy lives, in confession and repentance, to take steps to build a closer relationship with God, to pray, study, and walk in His Word.

Once we have gotten hold of our lives to live victorious in Christ, we must then decisively take steps to stamp out our bad habits and unhealthy practices, and these may be in the form of our attitudes at work or our behaviour towards others. Two Christian principles which I find particularly useful in bearing witness for Christ at the workplace come from the following verses:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1 Peter 2:18-20 NIV)

Our attitudes should express no fear when we know we are working for the Lord and not man. When we work for God, we are to always do our very best, and then let God do the rest. Therefore, when in the face of impossibilities, we should not fret, for God is a powerful God and nothing is impossible with Him, and even if the answer is a ‘no’ from God, we need not fear the man who expects the work to be done, for God is with us to see things through. Whether our bosses are reasonable or harsh, considerate or inconsiderate, we are to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities, and this attitude will separate us from the others, in showing Christ in our lives (Philippians 2:14-15).

Other examples of Christian principles may include areas such as not cheating on company's time to do our own work, not slandering others to raise ourselves up for better opportunities, not covering up truths for others or ourselves to keep the job, not turning a company's meeting into an evangelistic meeting, and not creating situations in the company to demonstrate a spiritual lesson or to promote greater awareness or spirituality.

Take the aspect of not covering up truths for example. Suppose we see our colleague being falsely accused for doing something he did not do by a supervisor trying to cover up for his mistake, do we leave our colleague to be accused by the management, while letting the supervisor go scot free, or do we defend the righteous? What if by speaking the truth, we risk losing our jobs? Do we still stand out to do speak the truth in representing what is right, or do we stand accused of letting down our faith?

What about preaching Christ at the expense of the company's time? Is it ethical for us to turn a company's meeting into a session of spiritual discussion? Will this achieve the goal of reaching people for Christ or will this turn people away from Him? There is absolutely nothing wrong about preaching Christ, but doing it at the right time win souls, while doing it at inappropriate times loses all.

Living our lives for Christ requires sensitivity. When we live our lives a holy and living sacrifice to Christ, we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and as we grow in the Lord, we will discover ourselves growing in greater sensitivity towards others. Being sensitive to others' needs will help us understand our friends and colleagues better, and this in turn will give us opportunities to offer help to them, not just in the areas of work, but also in areas of their personal lives, and in this way, we can demonstrate how God can help them as He has helped us. What better way to bring others to Christ than sharing how He leads our lives. Even if we have yet to develop this sensitivity, we can still make friends with colleagues, sharing their pains and joy as we share our experiences with them, the things God have done in our lives, in a manner similar to sharing other things in our daily lives, subtly and unconditionally, and depending on their response, slowly yet surely, introduce them to Christ.

Living our lives a testimony for Christ is never easy. Whether we are in or out of the workplace, we are constantly expected to behave in the ways of a good Christian so that man may glorify God because of us. Being a witness for Christ is not just telling others about Him, but also about showing Christ in our lives. We should therefore begin by drawing close to God, in coming clean before Him in all areas of our lives, so as to be better witnesses for Christ.

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